Thursday, September 10, 2009

Apocalypse Now?

I just started reading David Dark’s book Everyday Apocalypse which, as far as I can tell, focuses on the various ways in which the dynamics of the future intrude into this present age. I say various ways because Dark has a much more sacramental view of the world than does your garden variety confessionalist (like me). For Dark, we experience spiritual realities not merely through the means of grace given to the visible church, but through the expressions of pop culture such as the music of Radiohead, TV shows like The Simpsons, and the stories of Flannery O’Connor.

A two-kingdoms guy he certainly is not, but still, he does seem to scratch where I itch.

Some excerpts on the nature of truly apocalyptic art:

The pictures and sounds and stories of apocalyptic expression are deliberately paradoxical in such a way that they tease the mind out of whatever old, self-justifying forms it has settled for.... Apocalyptic won’t flatter or privilege the powerful or congratulate us for our sincere intentions, but it will illuminate what is dark. It will passionately expose. It will make us see.
On the subversiveness of the apocalyptic:

Apocalyptic was and is the only language adequate to describe this new beginning while maintaining its practice as one of constant exodus. It keeps religion strange and ready to question the given "reality" of the day. Without apocalyptic, no questioning occurs and the biblical voice is easily edited (or censored) to the point that it appears to support whatever sentimental sap or suburban self-improvement program it’s pasted upon.

We indulge a historical deafness when we think of the Jewish and Christian movements as the uncritical endorsers of whatever societal structures currently hold the population captive. It was Augustine, after all, who described earthly kingdoms as large-scale criminal syndicates.
And on the farce of values-based entertainment:

Purposed domination [referring to Tolkien’s negative assessment of allegorical storytelling], we might say, is the method of propaganda. It leaves the audience with no room for "applicability," and the propagandist wouldn’t have it any other way. The tightly controlled "message," after all, was the point in the first place, not the dignity of the reader or the story (if we can even call it a story).... Given our current cultural climate, the media consumer does well to be wary of any product that has featured, foremost among its selling points, its so-called Christianness.... I’m personally convinced that such market-driven theology will be viewed, historically, with at least as much embarrassment as, say, the medieval sale of indulgences.
Provocative stuff indeed—but is Dark right?